Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Nuevo Havana
June 12, 2007 4:17 PM   Subscribe

On June 4th, 2007, New Haven became the first city to pass a law offering Municipal IDs for all citizens of the city, including illegal immigrants giving them better access to city services and making it possible for them to obtain a library card or open a bank account. Some people think it's a good idea. Some people don't, saying, among other things, that the program will cause illegal immigrants from other cities to rush to New Haven. The federal government may have made their opinion known on June 6th, when 31 illegal immigrants were arrested in what officials say was a routine raid, not in any way influenced by what had occurred two days previous. However, the mayor of New Haven, John DeStefano Jr has called it "an act of intimidation." Yesterday, in nearby North Haven, 3 more illegal immigrants were arrested.
posted by eunoia (75 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
They directly targeted the city and those people--it's disgusting. The Mayor is exactly right.

Is New Haven a sanctuary city? They should become one. Public officials state they won't cooperate with authorities doing this kind of thing.
posted by amberglow at 4:37 PM on June 12, 2007


Not to be snippy about this but do you really think that illegals, most of whom can not speak English, are rushing now to the local library to get stacks of books to read when not working?
posted by Postroad at 5:02 PM on June 12, 2007


I have yet to hear a compelling argument against arresting illegal immigrants.
posted by MrLint at 5:09 PM on June 12, 2007


The tradeoffs between being a second-class citizen and an illegal immigrant are really interesting.
posted by phaedon at 5:12 PM on June 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Postroad:
Can't speak for New Haven but our libraries are indeed patronized by immigrants. There are foreign language sections (predominantly Spanish) with children's books, instructional books (primarily agricultural and landscaping) some fiction and at least one bi-lingual newspaper.
For many of the immigrants literacy is prized and actively sought after. (Outside of the gangs the anti-intellectual philosophy does not appear to have infected the immigrant community.)
posted by speug at 5:18 PM on June 12, 2007


Good for them!
/former resident of New Haven, home of great pizza
posted by languagehat at 5:27 PM on June 12, 2007


Postroad:

"City officials also wanted to respond to the growing number of robberies of illegal immigrants, who often carry cash or keep it in their homes because they cannot open bank accounts without official identification."
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:29 PM on June 12, 2007


I have yet to hear a compelling argument against arresting illegal immigrants.

Alright, I'm game.

Our current immigration policy is racist and so badly enforced as to be unjust. The enforcement of bad law is a bad act.
posted by Richard Daly at 5:47 PM on June 12, 2007


Our current immigration policy is racist and so badly enforced as to be unjust. The enforcement of bad law is a bad act.

Ok I'll bite which part of the immigration policy is racist?


Also you say that the law that exists is badly enforced. Are you meaning to imply that for that reason it should not be enforced at all? What would be proper enforcement?

I really hope you aren't asserting the baseless claim that they are not criminal because they only violated the immigration law.
posted by MrLint at 5:54 PM on June 12, 2007


Now I am very close to New Haven and I have also been a commissioner for my town's library. Dare I say that Yes immigrants prize liteacy and Yes immigrants like to read materials in their own language, but given the hours of libraries in my area, and given the fact that illegas come to this country to work, I suspect that not many of them are in the libraries from say 10 am to 8pm, unless they rush home from the work they are doing and go the the libraries before closing. I am not belittling immigrants or even illegals but scofing at the notion of having access to libraries as one soldid reson for giving them IDs.

Banks: The Bank of America makes deposits etc avaiable now for illegals in California. While I am sure that some illegals do get robbed in places where they live, so too, they get "robbed" by landlords who stack them up at very high rents and not very nice conditions, at least in the areas I am familiar with.

The real problem is that this issue goes back many years when some senator noted that this would become a national problem . He was right. You may be "against" illegals but how do you round up 12 million people and send them home? Or, if you can not, how do you annoint them citizens simply because they broke the laws of the land to get here , getting those who would come here legally (but must wait in long lines for a chance) but are not able to. Why, in passing, does Kennedy so ardently support the Bush bill? Think doormen in NY and and the Boston area.
posted by Postroad at 6:04 PM on June 12, 2007


I have yet to hear a compelling argument against arresting illegal immigrants.

That's funny, I have yet to hear a compelling argument supporting immigration laws.

Of course, the power structure created when capital may move freely across borders while labour can't... that's irrelevant, right?
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:26 PM on June 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


1- The US is capable of securing its borders.
2- It chooses not to.
3- It needs cheap labor. Really cheap. Like lower than minimum wage and no benefits cheap. See: agriculture, restaurants, cleaning services.
4- This cheap labor will stop being cheap if they become citizens.
5- It is unfashionable to refer to people as "indentured servants" or "2nd class citizens".
6- It is easier to make a lot of noise about "illegal immigrants", and nab 1 or 2 a month to keep the rest in line. Plus, the fact that they're mostly brown-skinned means that nobody non-brown skinned really gives a crap.
7- This allows US citizens to continue to eat at restaurants staffed by immigrants, eat produce picked by them, etc., all for (relatively) low prices. While complaining about illegal immigrants.
8- This has the effect of clearing people's consciences of their exploitation of poor, brown skinned people, by branding them as 'criminals', while at the same time basing large sectors of the economy on their labor.
9- It also makes for good, right-wing, tough-on-X speeches come election time.
posted by signal at 6:40 PM on June 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


That's funny, I have yet to hear a compelling argument supporting immigration laws.

Im not really sure what are you getting at here. Are you saying that you are against immigration laws? The immigration laws at the minimum, define the procedures for people to immigrate to the US and how to deal for those instances where the law is violated.

So if you claim there is no reason to support immigration laws leaves only 2 possible paths...

No immigration laws means no legal immigration at all, or the other is that just let everyone walk in with no examination or criteria. Of course that means that being a citizen becomes meaningless, because the criteria for naturalization also falls under immigration law.
posted by MrLint at 7:13 PM on June 12, 2007


I have yet to hear a compelling argument against arresting illegal immigrants.
The people who should be arrested and heavily fined are the ones who hire illegals knowingly. That's the compelling argument--you have this whole setup where entire industries rely on undocumented workers and they profit mightily from it. They don't get arrested--even when there are sweeps of their factories or plants, and they're blatantly breaking the law in a public way, and repeatedly. These individuals came here for a better life, and are being used by those employers.

The focus is wrong--it has to be on those who break the law by employing them. And who make out like the bandits they really are because they don't follow our wage, labor, or workplace safety or any laws. They are the criminals, and they're exploiting and using all of these people.

If "nanny problems" can and do sink public officials and candidates, it should also be sinking corporate criminals who do the same thing on a much much larger scale.
posted by amberglow at 7:57 PM on June 12, 2007


Amberglow,

I agree, the employers are certainly creating the demand. But again this leads to the question, why should the illegal aliens not also be punished.

If the assertion is that workers are needed then clearly more legal immigration needs to be allowed. That does not excuse the current violators.
posted by MrLint at 8:14 PM on June 12, 2007


It doesn't excuse them, but they wouldn't be here if there wasn't enough work for them.

I don't know that punishing hard-working people who really want to be here is wise. They contribute and they are already part of our communities, raising families and in essence just like us.

Their only crime is one of status and paperwork.

In the 80s, millions were given amnesty and the sky never fell. It's time to do it again, and to crack down on the real criminals. Multiple laws are broken by employers for every single worker who only lacks paperwork and documents.
posted by amberglow at 8:36 PM on June 12, 2007


Our immigration laws are wholly unrealistic too--we let almost nobody in legally anymore. And we prosecute not the illegal Irish or Polish or Chinese--but the brown immigrants almost entirely. This whole "controversy" is racist in essence. It's not about all immigrants or white ones or white collar ones, but about brown and lowerclass ones who struggle to get here and are exploited to boot--officially exploited.
posted by amberglow at 8:39 PM on June 12, 2007


I actually read that in one of the sweeps and roundups in a plant somewhere, the immigration people separated the white workers from the brown ones, allowing other illegals to go free and not be rounded up, simply because they looked more "American".
posted by amberglow at 8:41 PM on June 12, 2007


I would posit that the sheer number of illegal immigrants (as well as the likely continued illegal immigration) are more the problem than the act itself.

In the modern service state, immigrants which are mostly unskilled and uneducated create a net cost to the social system, in more than one way. Firstly, those who are making minimum wage or not much above it (I believe the cutoff is something like $35k/year, depending on the state, I cannot find the reference) do not contribute enough in income or sales taxes combined to pay for the services they receive: low-cost health care in either state sponsored clinics or, very often, the use of ERs as primary care, also each and every child they have costs $10k/year through 12th grade to educate, and this is not considering their share of the commons (traffic/infrastructure/etc). Because of this, I believe it is in the interest of the US to encourage immigration from those who have the highest chance of becoming a net contributor to the public coffers than a net cost. The United States creates enough unskilled workers without any additional help from foreign countries.

Secondly, I believe that it is true that we are paying artificially low prices for goods and services. Companies whine about not being able to find Americans to pick their tomatoes, or clean toilets and I say bullshit. They can't find Americans who will do this work at minimum or even slave wages, and they should no longer be allowed to. This is the second way in which illegal immigration draws from the coffers of the public, as they keep sales and income tax revenue overall artificially low.

With regards to enforcement, I believe we learned a great deal from the collapse of towns throughout the rust belt and in the midwest: there is no need for raids and deportations -- when the jobs are gone, the displaced workers will return to where there are jobs (even at Mexican/Central American wages) rather than remain in the US where HR Managers and Executive spend time in prison for hiring undocumented workers. Fines simply aren't enough. Prison time for those who knowingly hire illegal workers will solve the problem very, very quickly.

I also want to state that immigration and trade laws which do not permit the free movement of labor as well as capital desperately need to be changed. The United States, however, should not and cannot unilaterally open its borders and keep the current social service system. All of the fabled grand-influxes of immigration which are well known that included largely unskilled and uneducated workers (late 1800s, first quarter of the 1900s) predate the current social welfare system. Massive influxes of refugees from the Irish potato famine simply could not have been absorbed by a United States that provided the level of free social services that are currently available.

I rankle at the accusation that because I am against blanket amnesty for illegal immigration makes me a racist.

With regards to amnesty, I feel that aside from very strong enforcement against employers is just a part of the solution. Better control of the southern border is vital. Once these two items are in place, I am in favor of a limited amnesty with the following provisos: those who wish to stay in the US indefinitely would be permitted to do so, but because they broke our laws in entering the country, citizenship would be permanently withheld from them. Secondly, they must return to their home nation for one year before returning.

Illegal immigration is a thorny issue. The corporations would have no problem (and have for the last couple decades) doing their part to create a permanent underclass of immigrants who work for less than legal wages, never assimilate (in some families to the first and second generations of descendents, when grandchildren are citizens, they still do not learn to be functional in English, which limits their prospects), and the masses, as you say above don't mind the cheap goods and cheap labor but complain about expensive hospitals and deteriorating infrastructure.

I don't believe there will be a clear solution to this because there are simply too many entrenched interests involved. The corporations who want an endless supply of grey-market labor, the illegal immigration activists who believe that children coming into the US should not learn English and assimilate, the government which is owned on the far right by the corporations and on the far left owned by the activist special interests is generally ambivalent, and the populace at large which seems apathetic to the plight of those very same members of the underclass at best, and antipathetic at worst, but enjoying artificially low prices just the same.

We're all at fault, here. And the roadmap to a sure solution -- controlling the border, strict enforcement against employers, hospitals with specialized GP-level (rather than ER-level), less expensive staff also on duty to treat non-critically triaged patients, wage protection for both citizens and guest workers, and finally registration of undocumented immigrants for LPR status requiring basic functionality in English -- just has too many enemies for each and every step, because many anti-illegal-immigrant activists, pro-illegal-immigrant activists, and corporate lobbyists alike are bound by their ideology to permit no compromise.

Welcome to the gridlock on this issue -- and don't be surprised if it lasts for another two decades.
posted by chimaera at 9:03 PM on June 12, 2007


Amberglow, allow me to restate that I find your characterization that those who oppose illegal immigration and the proposed amnesty bill are "racist in essence" to be repugnant. Yes, you called the controversy racist in essence, but your subtext is clear -- that being that those who are against illegal immigrants remaining in the country and using US services are racist. And I respectfully ask that you clarify your point or withdraw the assertion.

I don't care where someone is from -- the United States has enough home-grown citizens of low skill and low education that it does not need to import any additional net-withdrawers from our social welfare system, and as far as I'm concerned, the fact that the US is situated directly north of Mexico and Central America (the source of the vast majority of illegal immigrants) and people from Mexico and Central America may have darker skin than I do is purely coincidence. For anyone in the US who is not here with legal documentation / visa / green card, they should find getting work impossible, be they Irish, Polish, or Mexican.

And yes, it does trouble me that the United States has been a sort of safety valve for these nations to keep just enough people leaving their countries that they do not have to reform and improve their own systems.

A points-based immigration policy (like that of Canada, New Zealand, etc.) is the only logical system when we have the amount of free services that we have.
posted by chimaera at 9:18 PM on June 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


“Amberglow, allow me to restate that I find your characterization that those who oppose illegal immigration and the proposed amnesty bill are ‘racist in essence’ to be repugnant.”

Of course you find it repugnant—it's the uncomfortable truth you don't have the moral courage to face.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:50 PM on June 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


Minimum wage is not what illegals are making. They make a wide range of salaries, from way way below minimum up to well within middle-class levels. And many if not most contribute to SS and pay other federal taxes. They're actually not using any more services than the 45 million Americans without health insurance, nor are they more of a drain on our resources than other groups (like agricultural firms, for instance, or steel producers, etc--all with massive subsidies every year).

Forcing people to go elsewhere and then come back is a joke. No one will do it and lose the work and lives they've built here. No one will leave their American child here and go elsewhere. It's not realistic to expect that of anyone.

I totally agree that this will go nowhere--it's an issue they're ginning up for the elections--Mexicans are the new Gays are the new Muslims are the new terrorists are the new Blacks...

When people speak of the border in connection to this issue and only mean the southern border, and there are never raids on Irish pubs, or Chinese sweatshops here, or on the people working to remove asbestos and renovate apartment buildings, or on suburban or rich people's homes and their nannies and gardeners and staff, or on restaurants, etc, then i call it as i see it. Until and unless this "enforcement" is across the board and applied to ALL groups here illegally and to all working everywhere, it'll remain racist --and classist. No one ever dares raid certain places--Upper East Side apartments or Hamptons mansions with lots of household staff. No one raids Darien mansions, or country clubs, or Chinese restaurants, or anything like that at all.

Also, whenever this issue is brought up, language becomes an issue. It's not Mandarin people are talking about. Why is that?
This is not the giant pressing hotbutton issue the GOP is making it out to be, and to buy into it is to buy into the attendant racism and xenophobia and baggage they always include. It's buying "Mexicans are criminals and bringing disease". "White christians are being outbred." "They're taking over." "Why should our forms be in Spanish too?" ... Tons of horrible stuff that they're using daily to demonize and scapegoat only one group.
posted by amberglow at 9:52 PM on June 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


So you're saying that I'm a racist, EB?

That's quite a steep assertion based on one data point.

Just want to make sure that's on the record, if so.

Or is it your assertion that those who are against illegal immigration and are not racists is a null set by definition? Which is another steep assertion to make.
posted by chimaera at 9:55 PM on June 12, 2007


"When people speak of the border in connection to this issue and only mean the southern border, and there are never raids on Irish pubs, or Chinese sweatshops here, or on the people working to remove asbestos and renovate apartment buildings, or on suburban or rich people's homes and their nannies and gardeners and staff, or on restaurants, etc, then i call it as i see it."

If there is probable cause, they should be raiding Irish Pubs and Chinese sweatshops and rich people's homes with nannies and gardeners. The fact that they're not clearly shows that there is a racial component to the application of these raids, which is also repugnant to me.

And there are plenty of xenophobes and racists who are against illegal immigration. There are also plenty of anarchists who oppose the WTO and IMF, and plenty of pirates who oppose the current system of patent and copyright in the US.

Just because I may agree with a distasteful group of people one one issue doesn't mean that I can be painted with the broad brush of anarchism or racism, or fascism or piracy or any -ism. And if someone's belief system is so narrow as to tie a single political opinion necessarily to racism, and deny the possibility that I may agree with the general position for reasons unrelated to race, then I'm forced to wonder exactly who it is that is closed-minded.
posted by chimaera at 10:07 PM on June 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Forcing people to go elsewhere and then come back is a joke. No one will do it and lose the work and lives they've built here."

Firstly, I don't have much attachment to that idea, and it would probably be very easy to talk me out of it. I'd say it's reasonable to not require them to leave at all.

But your point does raise one question in my mind -- when they came here, were they not losing the work and lives they built in their native country?

It seems to be pretty clear here that somehow the few things I've said seem to have fit comfortably into (at the very least EB's) preconceived notions of what sort of person is of the opinion I have.

Is the set of racists is simply a superset of those against illegal immigration? No room for a nuanced opinion that disagrees with yours, so I'm either a knowing racist or in denial about it? As a male, I guess I'm also a potential rapist by definition? Yeah, it's a straw man, but I'm drawing what i feel to be a relevant parallel.

I must be a right-wing white Christian patriot cryptoracist with a free market fetish and double-dubya voter, neh? How many counts would you find yourself wrong on if you actually met me? My email is in my profile if you want to send me a questionnaire.
posted by chimaera at 10:27 PM on June 12, 2007


“So you're saying that I'm a racist, EB? ”

I see indications of it, yes. You include most of the anti-illegal talking points, but buried inside it are a number of nativist and bigoted statements which reveals what I suspect is your driving motivation. As is usually the case with people who are outspoken against illegal immigration.

“This is not the giant pressing hotbutton issue the GOP is making it out to be, and to buy into it is to buy into the attendant racism and xenophobia and baggage they always include.”

Oh, I think it is something of a hot-button issue. You're wrong to claim that the GOP is driving it or that anti-illegal sentiment is mostly exclusive to the GOP's base. Anti-illegal sentiment cuts a wide swath through the political landscape with about as much presence on the left as the right. You can see this in the comments on the blog at The American Prospect whenever the issue comes up. In fact, it's especially interesting in TAP's case because TAP is a chief organ for leftist populism. Populism has always had a nativist core. TAP's writers encourage populism but seem inept at dealing with the ugly nativism that comes with it. Also, there's a lot of populism in the netroots movement, too, and so you see a lot of nativism and anti-illegal rhetoric on lefty blogs, as well.

I think the biggest reason this perennial panic is finding especially fertile ground lately is because of this long period of wage stagnation and employment uncertainty.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:06 PM on June 12, 2007


the other is that just let everyone walk in with no examination or criteria. Of course that means that being a citizen becomes meaningless, because the criteria for naturalization also falls under immigration law.

Yes, exactly. Making distinctions between human beings based on their place of birth is obscene and serves only as a means of creating and maintaining inherently abusive power structures. And as I say, a power structure is created when labour cannot move freely across borders while capital can. You may not be a racist for supporting immigration laws, but it absolutely and without exception makes you a supporter of class war waged upon the working class.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:19 AM on June 13, 2007


Illegal immigration--for and against--is becoming the new Palestine versus Israel issue so go at it because YOU know YOU are right
posted by Postroad at 4:06 AM on June 13, 2007


when they came here, were they not losing the work and lives they built in their native country?

No. At least, what they think they'll gain - what they'll actually gain - by moving here and working illegally outweighs what they left behind. That's why they come here.

This bill is crap, and not because it offers "amnesty." For "amnesty", please visit 1986. One of the reasons this bill is crap because it offers such absurd hurdles for undocumented workers to regularize their status that I'm guessing very few of them will actually do it. Return to home country for X amount of time (and pay fines and back taxes)? Yeah, that's going to work.

Apparently, any method offered by Congress that would regularize the status of undocumented immigrants counts as "amnesty", and is seen by some as a reward for illegal behavior.

I'm waiting for someone to explain what the alternative(s) is(are) if we don't offer some way for these folks to become legal residents. Round them all up? How? How will we pay for this? Where will we put them while processing their paperwork? How will we pay for the costs to transport them back to their home countries? What do we do with their kids (if they're U.S. citizens, and minors)? And who's going to tell the ag, meat, restaurant, and janitorial industries (and their lobbyists) too bad, so sad?
posted by rtha at 5:53 AM on June 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Of course that means that being a citizen becomes meaningless, because the criteria for naturalization also falls under immigration law.

So during the nearly 150 years that the United States didn't really have any immigration rules and even actively encouraged immigration, citizenship was meaningless?
posted by drezdn at 6:41 AM on June 13, 2007


"You include most of the anti-illegal talking points, but buried inside it are a number of nativist and bigoted statements which reveals what I suspect is your driving motivation."

I still deny any racial motivation for my position, but you do have a point above, in that there is a nativist aspect to my motivation. I dispute your rhetorical equation of a nativist perspective with racism, and I dispute it vigorously.

I feel that citizens of the US, of any race, should have privileged access to the services of the US government, and that potential immigrants, whatever their native country, should do so within the system rather than circumventing it, and I fail to see any fault in that opinion.

I don't care about birth rates or demographic shifts -- the United States has absorbed millions of immigrants from every culture in the world and that has only strengthened the nation as a whole. But my sense of moral outrage is piqued by line-jumpers, both in amusement parks and in immigration. I would love to simply be able to pick up and move to Canada or Costa Rica or Mexico -- but I can't. And so long as all the nations around us retain restrictive immigration policies, I see no reason for the US to open its borders wholesale.

Why is it that Mexican citizens should have a greater claim to US government services than Indian, or Vietnamese, or Senegalese citizens, simply because it's easier to cross a border than an ocean?

As I said above, I do not consider it viable to retain the social welfare system when de facto immigration policy skews the total immigration pool heavily toward those who withdraw more in services than they contribute. I have every sympathy with people who want to come to the US for better opportunities, but how is it in the interest of the US in the long term to permit millions of immigrants who are largely unskilled and uneducated when there are PhDs and entrepreneurs in countries all over the world who have been waiting for years, or even decades to hear back about whether they're allowed in?

For those who wish to have open borders like the US once did, you still must reconcile the difference between the social welfare system as it was then versus now, and I haven't seen anyone account for that.

The system is broken, and permitting those already in the US to stay (with certain sanctions) is probably the best solution, but that cannot be the entirety of the solution.
posted by chimaera at 9:14 AM on June 13, 2007


"And as I say, a power structure is created when labour cannot move freely across borders while capital can. You may not be a racist for supporting immigration laws, but it absolutely and without exception makes you a supporter of class war waged upon the working class."

Here is a perfect example of the point I made above. I agree with Pope Guilty wholeheartedly with regard to the need for equality of access globally to labor what is accessible to capital, and I'm fairly certain we disagree on why, as it appears from the rhetorical structure Pope Guilty laid out that he is at the very least influenced by a Marxist economic-political worldview, and my perspective is of well-regulated Market Capitalism.

While I disagree with his assertion that I support a class war against the working classes (having grown up in a Union household, I'm well aware of the dangers of either side of the Capital/Labor issue being too powerful), I agree that Labor and Capital should be generally on an equal footing, as that is ultimately best for both the managers of wealth and the generators of wealth. But I'm also definitely not a Marxist by any means, and do not have an inherent issue with the fact that there are rich people and non-rich people (abject poverty and obscene income ratios between top and bottom within a corporation are indications of imbalance in the Labor-Capital equation which should be addressed by regulation).

But this is exactly my point. I agree with Pope Guilty, but I'm no Marxist. I am against illegal immigration, and no racist.
posted by chimaera at 9:29 AM on June 13, 2007


Heh. I feel the same way about labor movement for the same reason you do. Movement of capital and goods across national borders increases productivity, but it's still incomplete if labor isn't mobile, too. One of the theories as to why the US has been so productive is because people have always been more willing to move within the US to where the jobs are than are the people of other economies within theirs.

I'd like to see all or almost all barriers to immigration into the US to be removed. I'm not nativist and I don't share the concerns that many people have about American culture with regard to immigration. I don't think that illegal immigrants are a "burden" in any respect. I do not mind the illegality of their immigration because I don't see the law they're breaking as being just in the first place.

A lot of people who are outspoken on the topic of anti-illegal immigration are bigoted. An example are the false claims that illegal immigrants are a source of crime. But illegal immigrants have been proven to commit fewer crimes than do citizens and legal immigrants. Yet some of these anti-illegal immigration folk persist in claiming otherwise and to tell anecdotes of brutal murders. That's scare-mongering and is just as motivated by bigotry as the Willie Horton ads were. The same is true about the claims that these illegal immigrants are "sucking us dry" with regard to social services. These are stories and points of view that appeal to stereotypes—just as the stories about Cadillac-driving welfare mothers did.

You can find blatantly bigoted themes and assertions when anti-illegal immigration people talk about cultural influences. Sometimes they'll say that Mexicans are "lazy", for example.

Now, all of that certainly doesn't prove that any individual example of an anti-illegal immigration agitator is bigoted. It doesn't prove that you're bigoted. But you can see why I'm suspicious. I'm right to be suspicious.

Even so, I sometimes overreact. I overreacted when I wrote that you are probably bigoted. There's a few things you've written that give me pause, but you've certainly not demonstrated explicit bigotry.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:21 PM on June 13, 2007


Anti-illegal sentiment cuts a wide swath through the political landscape with about as much presence on the left as the right.

Yeah. It's disheartening to watch intelligent lefties like, for example, Matt Yglesias and the commentors on his site talk about this issue. Anti-illegal sentiment is as much a bipartisan thing as pro-illegal sentiment.
posted by smorange at 3:08 PM on June 13, 2007


Yeah, I've gotten in some heated arguments with commenters at Yglesias's site about this. I remember one guy was talking about how the people defending illegal immigrants must all be rich white people who don't live near illegals and that such people should come down to the southwest border states and see how things really are. I pointed out that I'm very poor, there are illegals in my apartment complex, and that I live in a southwest border state and I don't see any of the problems he was describing. Then he asked me where I was. I told him I was in New Mexico. He said, oh, he's been to all the other border states, but not New Mexico. That doesn't stop him from generalizing about it, though.

And it's especially annoying to me because this guy, like some others, made a big deal about Hispanics overwhelming anglos culturally. Well, New Mexico is Hispanic majority and I, as an anglo, like it this way.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:32 PM on June 13, 2007


Why is it that Mexican citizens should have a greater claim to US government services than Indian, or Vietnamese, or Senegalese citizens, simply because it's easier to cross a border than an ocean?

Because our immigration quotas and regulations are themselves biased and racist (look up the 20s and the McCarren stuff), and make it almost impossible to get a legal permit/visa if you're from certain countries--and because it's obviously physically easier to sneak in if you're close already. Many illegals fly in too, and many come in "on vacation" and just stay, and some fly in when pregnant and just stay too, but no one focuses on them. It's all walls, and border fences, etc.
posted by amberglow at 9:15 AM on June 14, 2007


This really is just an another eruption of the "immigrant hordes" thing.

Oh, I think it is something of a hot-button issue. You're wrong to claim that the GOP is driving it or that anti-illegal sentiment is mostly exclusive to the GOP's base. Anti-illegal sentiment cuts a wide swath through the political landscape with about as much presence on the left as the right.
It originated on the right. It's driven by the need for a GOP campaign issue that ignites the base, and by Bush and the GOP's forcing of an immigration bill, and by rightwing xenophobia and racism. The left has reacted to the increased crackdowns, and to the legislation, and to all the bloviating, but no one on the left made this the issue of the day.

It wasn't the left that's been ranting about those immigration officials in jail, or the loss of "white Christian" culture, or those Mexicans with "leprosy" or the "criminal" ones. The issue was injected into discourse by the right and has been driving it for a few years now. Our media only makes these things big deals because of that pressure from the right.

Healthcare and other things are far far more important issues, but those aren't all over the media the way this is.
posted by amberglow at 9:21 AM on June 14, 2007


Many people don't like the idea of allowing waves of poor and uneducated people to enter the United States illegally, whether it be for environmental reasons, population reasons, social benefits and public cost of education reasons, or just because it lowers wages and raises rent.

However, when the reaction from defenders of this type of immigration asserts the nationality of these immigrants as the pro- and con- of the debate, and then proceeds to paint critics as anti-[immigrant nationality] by simply asserting it, then these defenders are unknowingly using a racial bias to advance their position, often lacking any other support. This blaming technique is also known as psychological projection.
posted by Brian B. at 5:50 PM on June 15, 2007


Or, on the other hand, there's often quite a bit of support for an accusation of bigotry.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:02 PM on June 15, 2007


When all those who have brought this issue to the fore (see those in the media and the GOP) explicitly made it only about the hordes of Mexicans invading, and even about defending white culture and the english language, etc, then it's not projection to state that issue is racist and xenophobic. Immigration was restricted in the 20s precisely using the same racist and xenophobic language.

Even the language in this thread is using their exaggerated rhetoric---there are no "waves of poor and uneducated people entering"--it's a steady stream, and has been for decades and decades now--it's not new, and the Amnesty thing in the 80s is proof of that. The language used is more fitting for Huns or Cossacks, and for refugees fleeing a calamity than for the new neighbors they actually are, working like us, living like us, raising kids, etc. Turning illegal Mexicans into the new boogey men is a game people shouldn't be participating in. The majority of Americans want amnesty and a process for legalization.
posted by amberglow at 7:05 PM on June 15, 2007


The majority of Americans want amnesty and a process for legalization.

I doubt it very much. Regardless, there has been a surge and some towns and states have increased rather quickly.
posted by Brian B. at 7:43 PM on June 15, 2007


Or, on the other hand, there's often quite a bit of support for an accusation of bigotry.

It's called cognitive dissonance. Some of the people crying bigotry are faced with two dissonant ideas, on one hand the thought of losing out to a new wave of lower wage workers, and on the other hand they see themselves as no longer on the bottom tier. So the idea of potentially losing out is overcome by the idea of newfound elitism, and thus "racism" is projected onto the concerned critics in order to convince themselves. What tips one off to this phenomenon is the fact that there is no rational argument for illegal immigration offered by them.
posted by Brian B. at 7:54 PM on June 15, 2007


I'm waiting for someone to explain what the alternative(s) is(are) if we don't offer some way for these folks to become legal residents. Round them all up?

If employers are fined for hiring illegals for permanent jobs, such as construction and manufacturing jobs, then the demand will dry up and they will go elsewhere, in their legally owned cars.
posted by Brian B. at 8:34 PM on June 15, 2007


Yup---it has to be too costly and onerous for employers to keep doing it. It can't just be one border when people with explosives have already been caught only at the other border, etc. It's about why our system is very dependent on millions and millions of exploited and illegal workers without the labor and other protections the rest of us have--it's built in due to the extreme restrictions and limitations on unskilled immigrants and the extreme demands of US industry for those workers.

Time: Is Racism Fueling the Immigration Debate?-- ... Just as important, the debate could address the issue of race head-on: should ethnicity be a factor in granting citizenship? ... But until politicians define the goals of American immigration policy — who and how many do we want and for what reason — it will be impossible to strip out the influence of anti-immigrant forces who, whether racist or not, draw dubious conclusions and make misleading statements.


The majority of Americans want amnesty and a process for legalization.

I doubt it very much.

This roundup of a ton of polls on immigration from Polling Report shows an average of 60%+ percent support for some kind of path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, give or take.
posted by amberglow at 9:07 PM on June 15, 2007


(i should add that a path to citizenship is amnesty--even if it involves a fine and any other punitive charges short of deportation, which is the only current legal punishment for people here illegally, i think.)
posted by amberglow at 9:14 PM on June 15, 2007


For two decades, immigration bashers have stymied any attempt to regularize the status of illegal aliens in this country by employing one, single argument against them: They are queue-jumpers who illegally crossed the border ahead of those patiently waiting their turn.
But the argument is a fallacy based on a complete misstatement of U.S. immigration policy. There is no such line – a legal pathway to citizenship for unskilled workers.... In essence, there is no queue for unskilled workers to stand in. Amnesty for them therefore has zero bearing on the wait time of skilled workers. And without amnesty, there is no way currently for them to become permanent residents.

The so-called problem of illegal immigration is purely the creation of America's restrictive immigration laws. ...

posted by amberglow at 9:20 PM on June 15, 2007


“It's called cognitive dissonance. Some of the people crying bigotry are faced with two dissonant ideas, on one hand the thought of losing out to a new wave of lower wage workers, and on the other hand they see themselves as no longer on the bottom tier. So the idea of potentially losing out is overcome by the idea of newfound elitism, and thus ‘racism’ is projected onto the concerned critics in order to convince themselves. What tips one off to this phenomenon is the fact that there is no rational argument for illegal immigration offered by them.”

That's quite an elaborate piece of psychological guesswork, there. And, assuming that there are such people, it's a fallacy to claim that anyone making accusations of racism are necessarily one of them. So your counter-claim is as bogus as you're claiming the racism charges are.

At any rate, I offered my rational defense of illegal immigration earlier in the thread. I can accept that you don't share my values. I can also accept that some people who don't share my values can be outspokenly opposed to illegal immigration without being bigoted about it. But a large number of people who are outspokenly opposed to illegal immigration are quite indisputably bigoted about it—there's a huge number of websites and comments on websites that are examples of this.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:26 PM on June 15, 2007


If employers are fined for hiring illegals for permanent jobs, such as construction and manufacturing jobs, then the demand will dry up and they will go elsewhere, in their legally owned cars.
posted by Brian B. at 8:34 PM on June 15 [+] [!]


Those'd have to be some big fines. And I'm betting that the [Industry Name here] Associations of American will lobby against those laws.

And then who will do those jobs? Who will pick your fruit and vegetables, slaughter your meat, clean your buildings, and roof and paint your houses? Not to mention prep and cook your restaurant meals, and bus your tables? I deplore the low wages that most undocumented immigrants are paid, but these are issues we haven't thought about on a national scale. How will we pay for the things we like without them? How much are you willing to see your food bills rise?
posted by rtha at 10:54 PM on June 15, 2007


How will we pay for the things we like without them? How much are you willing to see your food bills rise?

Those polls on the page i linked go into that--they've asked people.
posted by amberglow at 11:25 PM on June 15, 2007


Given the recent rhetoric in Republican circles about immigration policy, I found this story spectacularly amusing. The California Republican Party has decided no American is qualified to take one of its most crucial positions — state deputy political director — and has hired a Canadian for the job through a coveted H-1B visa, a program favored by Silicon Valley tech firms that is under fire for displacing skilled American workers.
Christopher Matthews, 35, a Canadian citizen, has worked for the state GOP as a campaign consultant since 2004. But he recently was hired as full-time deputy political director, with responsibility for handling campaign operations and information technology for the country’s largest state Republican Party operation, California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring confirmed in a telephone interview this week.
In the nation’s most populous state — which has produced a roster of nationally known veteran political consultants — “it’s insulting but also embarrassing … to bring people from the outside who don’t know the difference between Lodi and Lancaster … and who can’t even vote,” said Karen Hanretty, a political commentator and former state GOP party spokeswoman.

Wait, it gets funnier. Matthews was hired by Michael Kamburowski, the state GOP’s chief operations officer, who is … wait for it … an Australian citizen. ...

posted by amberglow at 11:36 PM on June 15, 2007


Amberglow, I didn't see amnesty mentioned, and legal citizenship or temp arrangements was always an option. Regardless, your claim about amnesty was premature.

Ethereal Bligh, what fallacy is that again?

rtha, illegal immigrants cause wages to decline and rents to increase and in some places they have overwhelmed social services and local school budgets. Your argument is special pleading and it is naive to suggest that the savings is being passed on. As an aside, we established during the last debate on this that Western Union was sending 20 billion to Mexico each year, much of it from hidden wages. Someone argued that the taxes from Western Union's windfall were the real blessing. Round it goes.
posted by Brian B. at 11:59 PM on June 15, 2007


The U.S. House of Representatives this morning voted to withhold federal emergency services funding for "sanctuary cities" that protect illegal immigrants. ...The amendment comes as the Senate is poised to take up debate again next week on an immigration reform plan that some opponents criticize as giving amnesty to illegal immigrants.

President Bush, who supports the Senate's reform plan, sweetened the deal this week by agreeing to include $4.4 billion for border security. The Senate had put the reform bill on ice because it lacked enough support to bring to a vote. ...

posted by amberglow at 12:47 AM on June 16, 2007


Amberglow - thanks; I missed that.

Brian B. - I didn't really intend to present a special pleading (well, ok, maybe a little). I mostly just curious about how things like food prices would be affected, since I never hear anyone (i.e., pundits, politicians) talk about it. Mostly there's just a lot of yelling about how we have to stop illegal immigration/get rid of illegal immigrants etc, but rarely any considered discussion of the ways in which our society benefits, and what we're really willing to sacrifice should all the immigrants magically disappear.
posted by rtha at 10:13 AM on June 16, 2007


Immigration bill supporters want to "change the complexion" of America
posted by amberglow at 2:03 PM on June 16, 2007


rtha, if food prices make any difference to anyone as far as paying their bills, then an endless stream of illegal immigrants that are imagined to lower food costs are their worst nightmare as wages and education are concerned. Add the moral problems of using an economic form of slave labor to supply our food, or any labor for that matter, because there is no free lunch and the plantation system wasn't first world.

Note: It costs over 100,000 dollars to minimally educate each child in America. Amnesty supporters who haven't even factored in their large families are so far off their calculations in savings that it boggles the rational mind. This doesn't even approach the issue of what causes poverty in a stable country like Mexico. We are only adopting the same problem that caused their problems, but we are arrogant enough to think we can change them.

What I see happening is that Americans are mistaking a desire to earn some better cash as the desire to adopt our culture. This is just not true in this case. There is no need to roll out the red carpet of citizenship when they only came here for some cash to send home. Furthermore, when it is assumed that people should work for less to immigrate, then it's a trap for them.

Bottom line is that it's a superiority complex to imagine they should or will change, and its denial and foolishness to hope they do not change their habits, because they are fleeing a cultural problem and anyone with a calculator should be able to figure it out.

My fear is that liberals will adopt this issue out of sense of Christian charity and lose the rational vote, because liberals-in-name-only who primarily use emotions to reason with already think that environmentalism and education and healthcare are forms of charity and not forms of progress, defense and survival.
posted by Brian B. at 4:47 PM on June 16, 2007


What I see happening is that Americans are mistaking a desire to earn some better cash as the desire to adopt our culture. This is just not true in this case. There is no need to roll out the red carpet of citizenship when they only came here for some cash to send home. Furthermore, when it is assumed that people should work for less to immigrate, then it's a trap for them.
The vast vast majority of immigrants build families here and don't want to leave, or to solely come to send money home. In fact, we used to have more of a revolving door when the borders were less enforced and less attention was paid--people used to come and go more often back and forth but now they can't. Now they get here--and stay here and want to stay here. They have learned it's a one-way trip.

And economic immigration is not wrong--it's why most families have always come to America. It's why my family and millions of others came--"the streets were paved with gold", remember? Bad conditions at home, whether economic or social, and the opportunities available here even if limited, have always made this a desirable place to come.
posted by amberglow at 5:04 PM on June 16, 2007


And you can't go native if you're not allowed to. You can't participate if you're officially shut out of doing so and are at risk of deportation. Adopting all the traits of American culture (whatever they even are) doesn't make someone American. Their children are the Americans, by growing up alongside other Americans. Just as our ancestors did. The generation that comes works like dogs precisely so that the next generation will benefit by growing up here.

New immigrants, whether legal or not, never fully adopt the culture--it's not possible to do so when you've grown up elsewhere. You pick and choose what doesn't conflict, and you do what you need to survive and thrive. Most of the "culture" is closed to all of those who aren't familiar with the rites and rituals and access rules and common assumptions and beliefs, etc.--even if born here, depending on how you're defining "culture".
posted by amberglow at 5:12 PM on June 16, 2007


If Mexico has a problem with surviving under the weight of their fecund poor, then adopting them as is would be national suicide and the worst investment in the history of capitalism.
posted by Brian B. at 5:21 PM on June 16, 2007


They're Different From Us-- ...This is essentially a made up crisis by people like Lou Dobbs and talk radio show gasbags to exploit the insecurities of certain Americans by creating the illusion that the fact they are losing ground economically is caused as much by illegal immigrants doing day labor as the total abandonment of the manufacturing base by big business. This is the tried and true formula for right wing populism which for some reason always seems to result in a lot of trouble for the people with brown skins, and not so much for the CEOs, who continue to get rich. Go figure. ...
posted by amberglow at 5:23 PM on June 16, 2007


I live right in the middle of it, so I know that Digby's full of shit. Not that I can convince anyone else from this fact of course.
posted by Brian B. at 7:50 PM on June 16, 2007


We all live in the middle of it--my city has more immigrants than any other (both legal and illegal). All of America is.
posted by amberglow at 10:46 AM on June 17, 2007


We all live in the middle of it--my city has more immigrants than any other (both legal and illegal). All of America is.

Now that I'm included in a description I don't agree with, this is where I finally get to suggest that proponents of amnesty are the ones creating a myth.
posted by Brian B. at 10:59 AM on June 17, 2007


what's the myth?

(and don't forget the sky never fell in the 80s with the last one)
posted by amberglow at 12:38 PM on June 17, 2007


what's the myth?

The myth of the American dream generally. Specifically, the myth that all immigrants equally come here to practice an idea, and the belief they can be absorbed into a whole under founding assumptions, and the myth that we have an endless frontier anymore. It's not only naive to assume things get better as they change, it is dangerous to assume that a spreading population failure will not explode under the available prosperity to feed it.

In the end, these are population arguments and your nostalgic argument is outdated by a generation because of what needs to be done environmentally to survive. The Southwest is bone dry and can't stand to double again. Maybe they might try Easter Russia as a practical consideration.

Ironically, the proposals in this thread waffle between slavery and rosy American idealism to win over believers. They are opposed. Anyone should take note of the desperation of some people to believe that they know what they are doing as if they planned it.
posted by Brian B. at 1:04 PM on June 17, 2007


The Southwest's problems are because of people already in the Southwest who didn't act responsibly and still don't. Millions aren't supposed to live in desert--neither there nor in CA. Living where there's no water is stupid. Building cities where there isn't any is insane.

The midwest, northeast and southeast have plenty of room for many more.

It's not a myth that even a guy working in a factory or a bodega or whatever can have a better life here, and build a better one for sure for their kids.

Pulling up the drawbridge because you don't like this currnet group is abhorrent. It's tired and was all said in our past--we proved those bigots wrong--us Jews and Italians and Irish, etc--now new groups are proving you wrong--Central Americans and Mexicans, Asians of all kinds, Africans, etc.
posted by amberglow at 6:27 PM on June 17, 2007


Each group comes, contributes and it becomes part of our shared culture. Our culture changes as we change--with or without immigration. We change it from generation to generation too.
posted by amberglow at 6:29 PM on June 17, 2007


I would actually say that legal citizens change our culture far far more than any immigrant group ever possibly does--women entering the workforce, civil rights, more equality in general, etc--all continue to change our culture very very strongly.

And now that we're 300 million strong, the impact of citizens always outweighs immigrants.
posted by amberglow at 6:33 PM on June 17, 2007


The midwest, northeast and southeast have plenty of room for many more.

That's nice, because now we're discussing a fantasy, and that's never my problem. But you might want to do the math on benefits versus taxes for low income people before you volunteer your neighbors. I don't think they limited their family size just so they can make room for those who don't.
posted by Brian B. at 3:54 PM on June 18, 2007


It's not a fantasy...many areas have been emptying out throughout the midwest--even cities there. We're also planning long-range here in NY for a much larger city.

In terms of family size, my great-grandparents had 6 kids. Every single generation born here had less. That's still true for new immigrants. I'd like to see stats on birthrates on them vs. the religious right, etc.
posted by amberglow at 6:06 PM on June 18, 2007


We have a positive birthrate for all citizens, and one for immigrants too. Many places (like Quebec and much of the EU, for instance) are only growing thru immigration--that's not true for us. All children born here are thoroughly American thru their schooling and socialization.
posted by amberglow at 6:08 PM on June 18, 2007


I don't know why you're wasting your time with him, amberglow. He's already written a bunch of things that indicate that he's dogmatic on this.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:46 PM on June 18, 2007


on healthcare and medical costs: ... James Smith, an economist with the Rand Corp., a Santa Monica, Calif.-based think tank, said healthcare costs for illegal immigrants are just a drop in the bucket compared with what the nation spends on healthcare.
A report he co-wrote late last year found that only $1.1 billion of public money was used to pay for illegal immigrants' medical care nationwide in 2000.
"It doesn't cost anywhere near as much as people think," Smith said. "It's not as if this is a big driver of what's happening to healthcare costs nationwide."
Smith said his research found that illegal immigrants are a young, healthy population that rarely needs medical care, except for immigrant women, who were found to have high birth rates and had twice the pregnancy-related hospitalization rate of women born in the United States.

posted by amberglow at 7:47 PM on June 18, 2007


And the Pew Hispanic Center has tons of stats and info on all illegal and legal immigrants and citizens

Growing Share of Immigrants Choosing Naturalization--...The population of immigrants who are eligible for naturalization was 8.5 million in 2005 and of these more than a third, or nearly 3 million, were Mexican. Mexicans still have a comparatively lower tendency to become U.S. citizens, but the number of naturalized citizens from Mexico rose by 144% from 1995 to 2005--the most of any major sending country. ...
posted by amberglow at 7:52 PM on June 18, 2007


That last link actually means we have many who are eligible for the path to citizenship but either don't know the process (and are scared of deportation if they sign up for things) or can't afford the paperwork. They're not at all hostile to becoming citizens, as the rising rates show.
posted by amberglow at 7:54 PM on June 18, 2007


We're also planning long-range here in NY for a much larger city.

This is becoming a self-parody on your part. Planning a new city for illegal immigration is wagging the dog, in the original sense of the phrase. It would be like saying that we are planning universal healthcare to accommodate them too, which of course will never happen now, for obvious reasons that go with creating a third-world type underclass in a two party state.

The only reason so many are allowed to live here is because businesses can exploit them without anyone noticing. The moment you thought that businesses and taxpayers will build a new city for them is the moment you exposed your fantasy. You can write off abortion rights too. Karl Rove knew what he was doing when he sent word down of the promise of an amnesty. He knows where an endless pool of conservatives live and he knew the fake liberals would divide the left over the issue.
posted by Brian B. at 5:33 PM on June 20, 2007


« Older RIP Don Herbert...  |  $50 Paint Job... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments